As the backdrop to its next theater performance offering, the NIU School of Theatre and Dance’s upcoming production of “Awake and Sing!” presents the idea that before the nation’s current economic woes, there were once greater ones.
“Awake and Sing!” by Clifford Odets, follows the Bergers, three generations of a lower-middle-class Jewish family living in the Bronx, New York, struggling for survival through one of the harshest economic periods in American history.
All living under the same roof, the mother is the glue that holds them all together, even if means relentlessly manipulating her children and others in order to maintain a proper appearance of respectability.
The father follows along without saying too much, the daughter contributes by getting pregnant out of wedlock, the son idealistically denounces the need for money to define who he is, and the grandfather cites Karl Marx to support his belief that the family should simply be dissolved.
When it premiered in 1935, “Awake and Sing!” was noteworthy as the first Broadway production to focus entirely on an ethnic minority family. The play is generally considered Odets’ finest work.
The SoTD production of “Awake and Sing!” is directed by NIU faculty member Ryan Massie.
The play runs from Thursday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 22, and from Thursday, Feb. 26, through Saturday, Feb. 28. Performances will be held at the Huntley Middle School Auditorium, 1515 S. First St. in DeKalb. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday with an additional matinee beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.
This production is not associated with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.